I was busy digging up a strip of ground all along the chicken fence, so I could plant morning glories there, when Deirdre toddled up to me. She walked up the path, then turned aside to the Secret Garden path where I was, holding a trowel. “I got shubbel. [Shovel.] Wanna get wormies,” she declared to me. I wasn’t paying much attention and kept digging. “Wanna dig wormies!” she repeated. She held out the trowel she was carrying to show me, but didn’t start digging beside me. “You want to dig a wormie?” I asked.
“Ohhh…you mean you want me to put a wormie on your trowel, like I did for Justy, don’t you?”
Justin had just come and got an earthworm from me to feed to the chicks a little bit ago, so Miss-copy-cat wanted to, too.
I rummaged around for some worms. Ahh, there was one! I put it on Deirdre’s trowel for her. Instead of running off to feed it to the chicks, though, she just watched it. She was delighted by it, which surprised me because Deirdre used to think earthworms were utterly, unbearably gross. The worm was wiggling a little bit on her trowel. She started giggling. “It’s moving!” she cried, as if that was something amusing. She seemed to think the worm was something novel that you watch to see all the funny things it does, like a clown. Every time it slithered or wriggled the slightest bit, she’d giggle and say gleefully, “It’s moving!” She seemed to feel a need to tell me everything it was doing. “It’s coming out!” she kept saying. “It’s coming out! Look at wormie! (giggle, giggle)”
“What’s the wormie coming out of?” I asked, not understanding what she was talking about. “The wormie! It’s coming out! (giggle, giggle),” was all she said. I realized the worm was sort of stuck to some little stick, that she thought he was “coming out” of. But it looked more like to me he was chopped in half and stuck to a stick. I told Deirdre, “You know what I think? I think he got hurt. I think he got chopped in half. And he said, ‘Ouch, that hurt!’”
“Oh,” she said, thought about it for a nanosecond, and then elaborated for me a Deirdre-version of a worm going “ow”: “Wormie go, ‘AOOOOOOW!’” she yelped. It didn’t bother her that it got chopped in half, but it was fun to make noises for it!
She dumped the worm off suddenly. She was bored of it. “Put it back. Get ‘nother one!” she ordered me. That worm’s entertainment ability was used up, apparently; she needed a new one now. This one was just as funny as the last one, from the sounds of her giggling again behind me. “What’s so funny?!” I demanded, even though I knew really. “Wormie–laughin’ at wormie,” she said. It went on like that; Deirdre kept saying, “Get ‘nother one!” And then as soon as I got another one, she wanted to put it back and get another one to laugh at. The next one I got for her, she decided was dying. She said very sadly and morosely, “It’s dying.”
“It’s dying?!” I exclaimed. I wonder what put thatthat idea into her head! It looked like an ordinary worm to me. “Yeah,” she said sadly. “Put it back. It’s dying. Get ‘nother one! Get ‘nother wormie, Cadie!”
But I couldn’t get worms as fast as she was ordering new ones.”Deirdre! Not until I dig another one up!” I exclaimed. “Oh,” she said, and then added brightly as and afterthought, “I’w hewp you!” I laughed. “Oh, you are, huh.”
(“I’ll help you” is Deirdre’s favorite thing to say, or do: as Titi says half-jokingly, the phrase that sends dread into the heart of all its hearers.) But first she got distracted trying to feed grass to the chickens. She stuck a blade of grass through the fence and said, “Here chicken!” Then, frustratedly: “Chicken won’t eat grass. Here chickens!” I had to inform her of the sad fact that chickens don’t eat grass. So she went to go pull out grass along the fence. That was her “help”, which she did very cheerfully–proclaiming to me the whole time, “I finding wormies! I finding wormies! Cadie, I finding wormies!”
“Deirdre, you have to find them in the spot that’s already dug!” I tried to tell her. She just said “oh” and kept ripping out grass and saying, “I finding wormies!”
Since I was digging up sod, I guess she figured she was, too. “You have to use the trowel,” I explained, figuring that at least she’d understand. “Oh. What towel? Where towel? Where twowel go?” She looked all around for it, turning her head in every direction, even though it was right by her. “Deirdre! Right there! Right in front of you!” I leaned all the way over from where I was kneeling and pointed at it. She picked it up, but still said, “Where twowel go?” Ilaughed and said, “Deir-dre! It’s in your hands!” She dropped the trowel as if it was a rattlesnake and snapped her hands up. “What? What hands?” she cried, which made me laugh even more. She obviously didn’t realize that the “shubbel” she had was called a trowel. “Deirdre,” I explained, pointing to it, “this is called a trowel.”
“Oh,” she said, and started to help me dig with it. “I dig with shubbel. Is twowel, really,” she amended. It made her feel very important to dig alongside me, but she got bored of it pretty soon. Once she was tired of finding wormies, she toddled off to find something else to do.